Organic solvent free PbI2 recycling from perovskite solar cells using hot water

Felix Schmidt, Meret Amrein, Sebastian Hedwig, Manuel Kober-Czerny, Adriana Paracchino, Ville Holappa, Riikka Suhonen, Andreas Schäffer, Edwin C. Constable, Henry J. Snaith, Markus Lenz (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Perovskite solar cells represent an emerging and highly promising renewable energy technology. However, the most efficient perovskite solar cells critically depend on the use of lead. This represents a possible environmental concern potentially limiting the technologies’ commercialization. Here, we demonstrate a facile recycling process for PbI2, the most common lead-based precursor in perovskite absorber material. The process uses only hot water to effectively extract lead from synthetic precursor mixes, plastic- and glass-based perovskites (92.6 – 100% efficiency after two extractions). When the hot extractant is cooled, crystalline PbI2 in high purity (> 95.9%) precipitated with a high yield: from glass-based perovskites, the first cycle of extraction / precipitation was sufficient to recover 94.4 ± 5.6% of Pb, whereas a second cycle yielded another 10.0 ± 5.2% Pb, making the recovery quantitative. The solid extraction residue remaining is consequently deprived of metals and may thus be disposed as non-hazardous waste. Therefore, exploiting the highly temperature-dependent solubility of PbI2 in water provides a straightforward, easy to implement way to efficiently extract lead from PSC at the end-of-life and deposit the extraction residues in a cost-effective manner, mitigating the potential risk of lead leaching at the perovskites’ end-of-life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130829
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Environment
  • Lead pollution
  • Perovskite solar cells
  • Recovery
  • Recycling


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